The Lunar Year of the Tiger began at the start of this month. It seems like a year ago after the events of this week. I had already been working up this post, which I will publish while it’s still timely. I just don’t want anyone to think that I live in some sort of bubble where a nuclear-armed madman isn’t attempting to obliterate a neighbour in the hope of stalling the reckoning that he deserves for what he has done to his people. I really don’t think that the biggest priority for your eyeballs this week should be my page full of pictures of big cats. My thoughts are constantly with the people of Ukraine. I can only offer my fervent hopes that those in power find a way to do something, anything to stop the madness.
So, with that said… here’s a page of tigers on stamps. If some of the nations issuing Lunar New Year stamps strike you as places that you wouldn’t think have cultural connections to the Lunar New Year, my post back in the Year of the Sheep – or was it the Goat? – explains all!
I started a spontaneous census of this year’s Tiger stamps on my Twitter feed. I soon learned that there were way too many. I also found out that the excellent Catpaw had already done a superb job of tracking the worldwide Tiger issues at her blog, Bitter Grounds, which I highly recommend you read and follow.
Still, here are some of my favourites (and a few others) from this year, because just like people born in the Year of the Tiger, this blog is unpredictable, confident, and brave.
(Big) China released two New Year issues. I put them on this lucky red background because they looked a bit plain on the screen, but they get going when their decorative foil kicks in.
China’s other New Year pair depicts a regal family unit. Beautiful illustrations, but a little straight, aren’t they? According to reports, it was criticized locally for lacking vigour. You can tell that to the tiger, I’m not gunna.
In stark contrast to the mothership, Hong Kong brings us this eye-popping collection of tigers depicted in various handcrafts. Kitsch, colourful, heaps of fun. You’d barely know that the joint had just had its freedom ground into the dirt. My winner, best Asian issue (artistic category).
Liechtenstein released this spectacular minisheet, with its four stamps featuring a finely laser-cut filigree silhouette. It’s like a doily on a stamp! They look great on a cover.
A beautiful, golden circular number from Armenia. I love the depth that the background pattern brings to this one.
These tigers look Hungary. Excellent joke. There’s a hint of yin and yang about this two-stamp minisheet. Loving the reds, oranges and golds this year. There were a few more along similar lines. Bitter Grounds has more.
I was quite enchanté by France’s Lunar New Year stamps. The bright colours really suck me in. The drawings are quaintly naive, like a mid-century Disney animation. More vertically-orientated miniature sheets, I say.
Here’s one that didn’t make my Twitter list because I only just saw it at Bitter Grounds while composing this post. There’s a touch of Dame Edna Everage’s glasses about this Fijian tiger, but he makes the list because of the revelation that the Tiger loves playing rugby. Who knew? Or possibly he’s just eating whatever people throw at him.
Feliz año nuevo, Uruguay! I love the muted colours and the feature image on this minisheet. It takes me back to a mural on the wall at a favourite Chinese restaurant. Winner, best non-Asian issue (natural depiction category)! Felicidades!
I didn’t know what the hell was going on when I saw New Zealand’s stamps, so I demanded answers. That’s when I learned about nianhua, traditional woodblock prints that are used to commemorate the New Year. Drawing inspiration from nianhua, designer Ying Chu crafted evocative woodblock-style depictions of a child born in the Year of the Tiger, full of playfulness and nostalgia. They won’t be everyone’s cup of (green) tea but for their uniqueness, and for teaching me something, NZ wins Best non-Asian issue (artistic category)!
And finally, to the Philippines. Bold, dynamic, a real 1970s action-movie-poster vibe. I LOVE that the tiger is actually going “ROAR!” You couldn’t pull that off in the Year of the Rat. Best Asian issue (natural depiction category) and my overall winner for 2022!
Check out the full Twitter thread if you want to see some others that were good but not good enough for the blog, or downright meh. What was your favourite?
Wherever you are, I wish you all the best for the Year of the Tiger. The good luck has already started for Armenia, Hong Kong, Uruguay and Fiji, who all just enjoyed their first appearance here at Punk Philatelist!
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